The Man Who Was Nobody was one of the series of very low-budget crime B-movies based on Edgar Wallace potboilers that were made at Merton Park Studios in the early 1960s, strangely enough coinciding with the German Edgar Wallace craze that gave us so many wildly entertaining movies in the “krimi” genre. The German movies were crazier and more fun but these British movies have their own charm as well.
To help keep the budgets at rock bottom the Merton Park B-features updated Wallace’s stories to contemporary times. These were produced as true B-movies, intended to fill the bottom spot on double bills although they were later screened on American television as the Edgar Wallace Mystery Theatre.
Marjorie pursues a promising lead - a would-be actress named Alma Weston who posed as Tynewood’s fiancée. The trail will also lead her to a murder, to gambling dens, to London’s beatniks and to the mysterious South Africa Smith.
Hazel Court makes a very glamorous and classy private detective, perhaps just a little too classy for such an occupation but then she is supposed to be a up-market private detective. She’s not quite so convincing when she has to pose as a beatnik but I get the feeling that the beatniks were a bit of a mystery to the people who made this movie. On the whole though she does a competent job. She is an English private eye and they do tend to be a little more genteel than their transatlantic cousins.
The movie tries to establish an atmosphere of big-time illegal gambling and within the limits of the budget succeeds well enough although the sets are as you might expect a bit on the basic side.
The Man Who Was Nobody is included in the first of Network’s Edgar Wallace DVD boxed sets. It’s a very acceptable anamorphic transfer.
The Man Who Was Nobody is an enjoyable lightweight mystery thriller that manages to preserve at least some of the characteristic Edgar Wallace atmosphere. You don’t want to set your expectations too high for this one. It’s a quota quickie but it’s decent enough entertainment and having Hazel Court as a private eye is certainly a bonus.